We have recieved this from European Bureau for Conscientious Objection <ebco@club.innet.be>

PRESS RELEASE 4th December 1998

EU - Refugees - Kosovo

* * * Prominent lawyers from Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia demand refugee status for conscientious objectors and deserters fleeing the war in Yugoslavia * * *

At an international seminar in the European Parliament organised by the European Bureau for Conscientious Objectors and the Heinrich-Bll-Foundation in Brussels, Mr. Azem Vlasi from Pristina (Kosovo), Biljana Kovacevic Vuco, President of the Yugoslav Committee for Human Rights in Belgrade (Serbia), Ranko Krivokapnic MP, Vice-President of the Socialdemocratic Party in Podgorica (Montenegro) demanded from the European union to recognise the right of young people to get refugee status when they refuse to fight in Yugoslav armed forces.

The wars in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo have shown that the armed service in Yugoslavia can no longer be justified. The Yugoslav army recently published a call to some 200.000 deserters inside and outside the country to register again to the military authorities offering them for this case not to be legally persecuted. "No one will follow this call. On the contrary - more and more young men are fleeing the country or are sent abroad by their parents", the advocates explained.

It remains a contradiction of the European Union policy to ban on the one side Yugoslavia for illegal military actions and to on the other side to send back young men to the same army because they did not join the armed services, Dejan Lazic, Yugoslavian jurist in Hamburg stated.

Nenad Canak, MP, President of the Socialdemocratic Liga of Vojvodina reported about anti-war actions in the first half of this year in his region calling for the refusal of armed services. His party got some 25% votes in the last regional elections. "The people in Yugoslavia are getting tired by the "mad war criminal Slobodan Milosevic" in Belgrade, he said. He had also publicly called for desertion in the Serbian Parliament.

Azem Vlasi, lawyer in Pristina, imprisoned by the Milosevic regime for 14 months, reported about the massacre in Drenica (Kosovo) where 300 Albans lived. In the last election the administration claimed that all of them had voted in favour of the Milosevic regime although none of them had gone to the ballots. "The regime does not only falsify elections but also kills those, who had presumably voted for them", he said.

Christof Tannert MEP (Germany/SPD) said that the right for asylum for conscientious objectors and deserters must become more important on the European agenda. It is necessary that the European Parliament puts pressure on the Council to come to human solutions in the members states and to bring refugee policy and the right of conscientious objection to military service together.

Report were given at the conference also by Brigitte Ernst, Amnesty International, and by Irene Messinger from the Support Office for Yugoslav Deserters in Vienna who are getting the UNHCR-Price for their activities in favour of deserters who have not received legal status in Austria. A Yugoslav deserter not having received legal status in Germany reported about his case.

Further information can be obtained from
Sam Biesemans, President of EBCO, MOBILE PHONE/GSM: +32-477 - 268893 or Gerd Greune, Secretary General of EBCO - MOBILE PHONE/GSM:+32-477 -512734

Cornelius Graubner
International Secreteriat
European Bureau for Conscientious Objection
Bureau Europ_en de l`Objection de Conscience
35, rue van Elewijck
B-1050 Brussels
tel.: +32-2-646.6244 fax: +32-2-640.0774
eMail: ebcobrussels@compuserve.com